The White House announced new steps in its counter terror campaign on Monday
The announcement included measures that will tighten the security in the visa waiver program
The White House announced Monday new steps in its counter terror campaign, including measures that will tighten the security in the visa waiver program and the naming of a new senior adviser to the President – Robert Malley – who will focus solely on the anti-ISIS fight.
These announcements come as President Barack Obama traveled to Paris in the wake of recent terrorist attacks that killed 130 people, for a landmark climate summit this week. While the President moved to secure an historic climate deal to reduce carbon emissions – a key part of his legacy– the global threat of ISIS has shared the main stage.
“We’re cognizant that our global campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL has a special residence in this city,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters before outlining the latest White House actions.
The new adviser, Malley, previously served as senior director at the National Security Council for the Middle East and Africa. Earnest said at a briefing in Paris that Malley’s role will be complimentary to that of Brett McGurk, the State Department special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition.
The visa-waiver program, which makes it easier for foreign citizens from 38 partner countries to travel to the United States without a visa and with minimal screening, came under intense scrutiny amid heightened security concerns that it could be used as a form of entry for radical jihadists.
At least 19 million people enter the United States through the program every year. According to the White House, the Department of Homeland Security will begin reviewing and collecting information from travelers “regarding any part travel to countries constituting a terrorist safe haven” as well as identify possible pilot programs that effectively increase security through the use of fingerprints or photographs.
DHS and the FBI will also offer assistance to partner countries to “better facilitate information sharing,” including aid in screening refugees or asylum seekers.
Members of the House and Senate expressed concern over the visa-waiver program as a potential weak link in America’s security system following the Paris attacks.
Earnest urged Congress to pass legislation to strengthen the visa waiver program before leaving for December recess.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced that the House GOP terrorism task force would meet Tuesday to discuss possible changes to the visa waiver program, adding that he expected there could be a vote on legislation reforming the program before the end of the year.